He's worked with Vinnie Jones and the Spice Girls. In Tess Of The D’Urbervilles he whips horses and races around in carts. JASON FLEMYNG is quite a bloke.
Words: Peter Ross
Ask most actors why they're playing the lead in a costume drama and they’ll pontificate about Heathcliff/D‘Arcy/Rochester‘s brooding angst and hidden humanity. Ask Britpacker Jason Flemyng why he's playing Alec D’Urberville in a two-part telly adaptation of Thomas Hardy‘s Tess ()f The D'Urbervilles and he replies ‘paying for Christmas. basically. Plus you get better cossies and don‘t have to sniff glue.‘ He’s a geezer. see‘.’
The sarf Londoner. who you’ll know from such movies as Stealing Beauty and Alive And Kicking could be described as the coming man of British cinema. Nowhere as ubiquitous as the Carlyles and McGregors of this world. he’s on the same list when it comes to casting. sixteenth on the list by his reckoning. ‘lf Bobby’s working in the States and Ewan's taking a break. then the odds go down and down and down until they’re left with little Jason.‘ he says.
Whatever the selection process. Flemyng has definitely bagged the best part in Tess. Set in Hardy‘s imaginary Wessex. this tragic romance tells the tale of Tess Durbeyfield (Justine Waddell). an impoverished maid who goes to work for wealthy distant relatives. There she meets Alec D’Urberville. one of literature‘s greatest cads. who relentlessly pursues and rapes her.
‘The good thing about doing a rape in period costume is that you’ve got 26 layers between the pair of you.‘ says Flemyng. ‘Justine definitely felt safer than if she’d been in jeans and a T- shirt.
‘Scenes like that stick with you and. if you live them completely. you kind of feel like you‘ve done it which can cause a few hang-ups. So I just detached myself and went through the moves. But. with the horse-whipping and cart-racing l was fully into it.‘
This last comment reveals Flemyng‘s inability to take costume drama with anything less than a bucketful of salt.
‘Tess is done quite seriously. but I play Alec as more of a romp.’ he laughs. ‘I was in tune with the rest of the production. btit I couldn‘t help thinking of Terry Thomas. who I adore. It was very difficult not
the pair of you.’
104 THE lIST 6—19 Mar 1998
‘The good thing about doing a rape in period costume is that you've got 26 layers between
Hardy perennial: Jason Flemyng in Tess
to twiddle my moustache and go “lleeeelln. my beauties".'
(‘amp costumed buffoonery aside. you'll be seeing a lot of Flemyng this year. April sees the release of Tllt’ .Iames Gang. a humorous social critique about a family wanted for armed robbery and shoplifting. in which he plays John Hannah‘s nice brother. (.‘ome September and you can see him as a gangster in hot property Lock, Stoek And Two Smoking Barrels. where he stars opposite footballing bad boy Vinnie Jones who plays a heavy.
‘At the beginning of the film. we were all supportive of him and trying to help.‘ he says of Jones. ‘But about half-way through. I realised he was going to steal the picture and spent the rest of the shoot trying to ruin his performance.‘
That was one tactic which Flemyng wouldn‘t have needed during filming for .S'pieeii'm'lrl in which he plays a sleazy hack chasing Posh. Scary et al. But he had unusual motives for being in the film at all: ‘I only did it so my niece and nephew would say “I love you more than daddy".‘ Chap.
Tess Of The D’Urbervilles starts on Scottish. Sun 8 Mar, 8pm.
Channel 4, Fri 13 Mar, 9.30pm. Following the untimely death of
Dermot Morgan, who played Father Ted Crilly, Channel 4 have consulted With his family and deeded to broadcast the third series of Father Ted ’as a fitting tribute to his extraordinary and unique talent'. The programme, originally scheduled for broadcast on Fri 6 Mar, has been delayed for a week as a mark of respect.
A few days before the tragedy, writer Graham Linehan was considering ending the BAFTA-blessed series.
’At the end of every series, the last thing we want to do is another one,’ admitted Linehan. ‘I suppose it could continue but peOple often get bored of something before they realise it — they start forgetting to tape it or they don't know whether the series that's on is new or repeats.’
Linehan had also been looking to tighten things up a bit. 'From shows like Seinfeld, we've learnt the value of short scenes and slightly more intricate plots. We were always warned off plots because what people seemed to like was Ted and Dougal sitting around talking nonsense, but this time it’s more satisfying for us to be writing things which come together in a more clever kind of way. And for the audience, too.’
Talking nonsense may have been Father Ted's trademark, but few shows can lay claim to such habit-forming catchphrases as 'Drink!’ ’Feck!‘ and 'Gurrls!’ Apart from those pesky Teletubbies and Dani Behr, Father Ted's lecherous priest Jack Hackett is probably the most vocabulary- challenged indiVIdual on telly.
’We toyed around with givmg him a new word but one never came tip in the end,’ Linehan confessed. ’But he does show a different srde to himself in this series — every leap year he becomes full of the joys of Spring and there's one moment when he becomes qmte lucid and eloquent. But I wouldn’t know dude how to describe that.’
There is one sure way to describe Father Ted: pure genius. We may never see its like again. (Brian Donaldson)
Actor Dermot Morgan as Father Ted